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Is Mickey Rourke too old to effectively play gay rugby player Gareth Thomas in a movie?

I have been surprised by what seems like overwhelming disapproval of actor Mickey Rourke playing openly gay rugby player Gareth Thomas in an upcoming film. Rourke is in Wales now preparing for the role.

The complaints center around the 58-year-old Rourke playing an elite-level athlete who is 36. When Outsports interviewed Thomas in January, he slammed critics of Rourke for not being young enough or buff enough, saying: “I don’t give a fuck about that. He’s the perfect person to play me. … It’s not about the physical."

But many disagree, and here is a sampling of opinion I found on Outsports and around the Net:

  • Rourke would have been perfect for this, like 15 years ago.
  • No CGI in the world can get Rourke to look as sexy as Gareth.
  • Really, I can't believe this is going forward. Jason Statham, Tom Hardy.. plenty of believeable (not to mention hunky) actors who could nail this role.
  • A film with Mickey Rourke playing a world class athlete in his early to mid-30s will have a huge problem making audiences suspend their collective ‘disbelief, especially given how much coverage Rourke’s age is already getting – not to mention he looks every bit of 58 years old.
  • Mickey’s had alot of plastic surgery but there isn’t enough surgery in the world to make me buy a 58 year old as a 36 year old (and even younger) professional athelete. Ooh let’s get Whoopi Goldberg to play Serena Williams…Meryl Streep can play Steffi Graf…Harrison Ford as Tom Brady…maybe Robert DeNiro should remake Raging Bull….
  • Even with the best acting in the world, this movie is going to be awful because it already fails at upholding the important cinematic rule: suspend belief.
  • It’s awesome that Mr. Thomas is supporting his chosen actor, but has the rugby player suffered too many head injuries? Is he unaware that film is a visual medium? That Mickey Rourke is a bit cray-cray? That, gay men aren’t going to shell out $11.50 to watch Mickey Rourke do ANYTHING in a film?

I don't have a strong opinion on this, having never seen Rourke in a movie. The age difference does seem jarring and having met Thomas, I have a hard time wrapping my arms around the thought of Rourke being him. But the rugby player is adamant that he is thrilled with the choice, saying he wants "an actor to play me, not a movie star". Cyd is more of a film goer than I and he loved "The Wrestler" so I got his take:

The criticism that Mickey Rourke is too old is just somebody being bitchy. I don't hear complaints when a hot 30-year-old is tabbed to play a kid in high school. I think Mickey's a great choice, Gareth thinks he's a great choice, and Hollywood can shave 15 years off of anybody.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Is Rourke the right choice? Will you see the film even if you think he's miscast? Post your comments below.